Apocalypse Now: Final Cut
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark war film Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola has revisited his masterpiece for the second time, creating a brand new cut that's longer than his original theatrical cut but shorter than the slightly bloated 'Redux' edition from 2001. Now, Coppola has delivered his preferred version of the film, complete with a brand new 4K remaster with tweaked color timing and sound design for maximum impact. The results are spectacular.
Available in a new 6-disc Collector's Edition that also includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray copies of the film's theatrical cut and Redux version (reportedly based on the same remaster), Apocalypse Now: Final Cut is a must own for fans of the film.
From the haunting opening shot (which sees a large portion of jungle bombarded with napalm, producing enormous orange fireballs that burn with incredibly intensity), the benefits of Ultra HD Blu-ray become immediately apparent. Simply put, the inclusion of HDR10 and Dolby Vision breathe new life into the film.
While the transfer's overall presentation exhibits a slightly greener tinge than previous releases of the film, it's the contrasting colors that truly stand out – witness, for instance, the increased vibrancy of the pink smoke grenade scene, or the blues of the jungle at night.
Of course, it's worth noting the inky darkness found in numerous scenes throughout the film, particularly towards the end – owners of OLED screens will truly appreciate the appearance of pitch black shadows throughout the movie.
Along with a general uptick in resolution that still manages to retain a healthy amount of filmic grain, a powerful new Dolby Atmos track manages to create a more intense, suffocating atmosphere (new tweaks like delayed explosion noises are a very nice touch, too). If you love this film, we imagine this will be the definitive release for the foreseeable future.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English Dolby Digital 2.0, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 183 minutes (Final Cut), 153 minutes (Theatrical Cut), 202 minutes (Redux)
Black Hawk Down
Arriving on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a brand new transfer (based on a true 4K master), this release of Black Hawk Down's utterly destroys its dated regular Blu-ray.
Dialling up the contrast on the film significantly, the new transfer boasts an incredibly striking image with some of the deepest black levels and shadows we've seen on the format. We're talking Army Rangers appearing as silhouettes against the blinding Mogadishu (actually Morocco) sunlight.
That it manages to achieve such strong highlights while also reaching pitch black levels of darkness, all without a hint of crushing, is just a testament to the quality of the film's new scan and the power of high-dynamic-range.
Purists will be pleased to hear that Black Hawk Down's intensely gritty appearance has been maintained on this UHD release, with the healthy presence of film grain lending the film an increased sense of frantic authenticity. Detail is astonishing, particularly in close-ups where faces reveal individual pores and grains of dirt. Explosions and flying debris also look spectacular thanks to the uptick in resolution.
Easily one of the best catalogue releases we've seen on the format to date, Black Hawk Down's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is a must-buy for fans of the film and well worth double-dipping if you already own a previous version.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Castilian) Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Latin American) Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.38:1, Runtime: 152 minutes (Director's Cut), 144 minutes (Theatrical Cut)
Shot on 35mm film and then finished on a true 4K digital intermediate, Widows arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray looking as great as it could possibly look.
Without sacrificing its filmic presentation, Widows receives a terrific transfer that embraces healthy grain while offering improvements over the standard Blu-ray across the board.
Exhibiting deeper contrast and excellent shadow detail, the film looks especially good during its numerous nighttime scenes. Witness, for instance, a heist scene that takes place late in the film – despite being set late at night in an indoor environment without a whole lot of lighting, it's very easy to follow the action and know exactly what's going on at all times.
Although the film is relatively muted and steely from a color standpoint, the colors that are there manage to punch through the darkness with added vibrancy thanks to the disc's HDR10+ color tuning. If you're a fan of adult thrillers, you should definitely consider adding Widows to your 4K collection.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10+, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 130 minutes
Bad Times at the El Royale
A rain and neon-soaked noir thriller, Bad Times at the El Royale lends itself nicely to the detail-focused 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format. Thankfully, its true 4K transfer does not disappoint, offering the definitive way to watch this multi-threaded film.
Though Bad Times at the El Royale takes place almost entirely at a single location, there's plenty of visual variety to be found during its hefty running time. Thanks to inclusion of HDR10+ support (sorry, no Dolby Vision to be found here), the film excels during early daylight scenes, exhibiting a warm and pleasing image that feels lifelike and cinematic at the same time.
Of course, the film mostly takes place at night (mostly), and that same HDR10+ tinkering allows for some exceptional shadow detail and contrast that lets us see additional details buried within the darkness in some scenes.
As you might expect, colors also pop with added vibrancy, particularly in the presence of neon lighting and the film's funky late-sixties set decorations, however, the most impressive instance of HDR's importance may well be attributed to skin tones, which appear healthy and natural at all times.
Throw in a wonderful Dolby Atmos audio track which provides the film with a truly convincing three-dimensional soundscape, and it's clear that Bad Times at the El Royale is a must-own title for fans of the film.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10+, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 142 minutes
Just like Queen's music, the musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody soars on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with incredible picture quality and a triumphant Dolby Atmos audio track that will rattle your living room with its stomp-inducing power.
Captured at both 6.5K and 3.4K resolutions (though we're unsure of which resolution the film was finished at), Bohemian Rhapsody's 4K Ultra HD presentation is one of fantastic clarity and depth, with fine details like facial hairs and lines receiving increased visibility and sharpness.
Thanks to the inclusion of the advanced HDR10+ standard, the film's colors are exceptionally vibrant and lifelike, with increased shadow detail and impeccable contrast balancing things out for a truly eye-popping image overall. Though Dolby Vision is specified to be part of the film's cinematographic process, the format is sadly not included on this disc.
Regardless, it's hard to fault this release of Bohemian Rhapsody. Not only does it look sensational, arguably improving upon the film's theatrical presentation, it also sounds the business, too – both Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and Dolby Vision audio options are available, with the latter offering enhanced nuance and directionality.
If you love Queen's music and want a disc you can sing along to, you owe it to yourself to make Bohemian Rhapsody part of your 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray collection.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10+, Resolution: 2160p (master resolution unknown), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 135 minutes
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
While not the kind of film that immediately screams to be owned in 4K, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a good example of how the benefits of Ultra HD Blu-ray can make the viewing of a great movie more enjoyable.
Thanks to some subtle HDR color tuning, Three Billboards feels warmer and more true to life in its appearance than it does on the film's standard Blu-ray release. Skin textures display a more lifelike hue, with the additional detail found in fine lines and wrinkles bringing the characters' weariness right to the forefront.
Environments also receive a boost in color and detail, which is particularly noticeable in the green grass and trees surrounding the film's titular billboards (which themselves appear less saturated than they did in theaters).
Contrast is another area in which the film has improved on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray — a night time scene in which one of the characters attacks the town's police station with molotov cocktails truly comes alive thanks to some exceptional shadow delineation, making the scene's red hot flames look more vibrant in the process.
Sure, it's not as visually splendid as something like The Shape of Water, but Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri absolutely looks better on the format, making it the definitive way to watch the film at home for the foreseeable future.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1,Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 115 minutes
Murder on the Orient Express
What a surprise this turned out to be! Shot on Panavision's large 65mm format (captured at 6.5K and finished at 4K), Murder on the Orient Express looks unexpectedly sublime on Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Detail is, quite frankly, amazing in Murder on the Orient Express. From the exquisite fabrics of the cast's period-accurate costumes, to the lines in their faces and the whiskers in their (absolutely huge) moustaches, the bump in resolution brought by this 4K disc is exploited for every pixel it's worth here — and we're super happy about it.
Colors are also more vivid and natural-looking here, with the disc's HDR10 tuning working wonders on the film's rich palette. Skin tones are true to life, and the film's expert lighting from cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos (who worked with director Kenneth Branagh on the first Thor) comes across beautifully on this transfer.
If you have an OLED television, you'll likely marvel at the film's night scenes, in which the dark corridors of the Orient Express' carriages disappear into inky darkness, showing you additional detail if and when the film chooses to do so.
Topping it all off is a wonderful Dolby Atmos audio track that creates a convincing soundscape as the train chugs along, and a subtle score that adds to the film without succumbing to overpowering bombastic music. Highly recommended for fans of the film and Poirot stories.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1,Spanish DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 114 minutes
The latest adaptation of Stephen King's terrifying novel It arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with an exceptional transfer (despite being upscaled from a 2K master) that is improved by the inclusion of HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Though a lot of the film takes place in dark and dank environments, visibility is always high in It, with some perfectly-judged HDR and Dolby Vision tinkering letting you see all the detail in the shadows without sacrificing all that creepy darkness.
Detail also receives a huge boost thanks to the added resolution of this 4K presentation, most evident in the crackling clown makeup on Pennywise's forehead, and the exquisite detailing of his freaky costume. Admittedly, some CGI elements become more obvious in 4K, but the trade-off is totally worth it when it comes to the disc's high dynamic range presentation and the increased detail seen here.
It also packs one of the most bombastic and effective audio tracks of any 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray released to date, with perfectly balanced Dolby Atmos and DTS tracks that will scare the pants off of you. You'll hear every creak, every noise, and every scream with the utmost clarity, depth and dimensionality.
One of the best 4K discs released to date, It is a must-have for horror fans, especially those with access to TV that supports HDR10 or Dolby Vision.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 135 minutes
The best film of 2017? It's got to be up there. Christopher Nolan's take on the harrowing evacuation of Dunkirk at the height of the second World War is a masterclass in tension, practical effects and historical storytelling.
Playing with time and the sequence of events over the nail-biting rescue, Nolan takes full advantage of the IMAX format to bring an epic scale to the horrors of war, with a soundtrack that melds scraping atonal notes with the sounds of the death-dealing machinery bearing down on the troops. You'll be on the edge of your seat from the moment the very first shot is fired until the credits roll.
It's not to be missed then, and it's a particularly impressive disc to have in your 4K UHD Blu-ray collection. With the majority of the film shot in 70mm for IMAX screens, your full screen will often be taken over by the lapping waves and grim beaches of Dunkirk, presented with a fine sharpness that brings out the incredible detail in the recreated period piece. HDR visuals also make the action sequences really pop, bringing an added depth to what may have appeared as a muted, almost watercolor-like presentation in digitally projected cinemas.
That soundtrack isn't undersold either (it really has to be heard to be believed, at as loud a volume as the neighbours can stand), but note that Dolby Atmos is not supported here.
If you're a fan of Christopher Nolan, all his other movies (barring Memento) are now available in 4K HDR too. As many are older titles, you need to be ready for a slightly softer upscaled presentation, but the HDR benefits remain clear to see. You'll find The Prestige, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Interstellar and Inception in stores alongside Dunkirk.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (4K master), Audio: English DTS:HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital, Aspect ratio (variable): 2.2:1 & 1.78:1, Runtime: 106 minutes
Here's a film that doesn't need a blockbuster scope or enormous amounts of CGI to dazzle on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Patriots Day recounts the devastating events surrounding 2013 Boston Marathon bombing in a very naturalistic and matter-of-fact kind of way.
The film aims to put you right there during not only the explosions that changed everything, but the eventual chase to capture the assailants responsible. In this regard, the film's cinematography succeeds magnificently in capturing a sense of realism, thanks to some incredibly sharp digital photography (captured in 3.4K with a 2K digital intermediate) and exceptionally lifelike HDR color grading.
Skintones are as close to reality as I've seen from any film on the 4K Ultra HD format. Lines and pores are clearly visible, and make it even easier to read the emotions displayed on the characters' faces.
Later in the film, during an extended night-time firefight in suburbia, the disc jumps to another level of clarity entirely. Shadow detail gets a huge boost, making it easier to follow the action in what would normally be an underlit setting.
In fact, we'd go as far as to say that Patriots Day acts as a showcase for what HDR can bring to a films lighting and color palette, with fire taking on an especially important role. Surprising as it may be, this is a demo-worthy disc.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English DTS:X, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English DTS Headphone:X, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 133 minutes
Though sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, Hacksaw Ridge arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a gloriously-detailed transfer that's bolstered by a terrific HDR color gamut.
In its first half, the film radiates with natural-looking light and the kind of clear cinematography that only digital cameras can achieve. Though the disc's increased resolution makes it easy to spot green screen work on a couple of occasions, the added clarity that's made possible by the Ultra HD format far outweighs these minor infractions.
Later, the added detail provided by the format's higher resolution, as well as the wider color gamut it offers, brings a shocking level of detail and an added feeling of authenticity to the film's many gruesome war scenes. If you find intense scenes involving bloody viscera and shredded appendages hard to stomach, you're going to have an even harder time experiencing them on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Elsewhere, high-dynamic-range allows the film's cinematography to really shine, showing very realistic color and light reproduction, especially in dark scenes. At times, Hacksaw Ridge's war scenes forego realistic color palettes in favour of a stylised, almost monochromatic look. Here, HDR allows you to really notice the different shades at work, rather than simply looking dull and grey. These scenes are also punctuated by a barrage of explosions, juxtaposing bright bursts of color over a bleak battlefield.
Top this off with a dynamic and concussive Dolby Atmos audio track, and what you have in Hacksaw Ridge is one of the best releases on the format.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (Upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39: 1, Runtime: 131 minutes
The Neon Demon
One of the few 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray titles that doesn't come with HDR enhancements, Nicolas Winding Refn's horror thriller The Neon Demon looks utterly glorious on the format nonetheless. If you want to get your hands on the film in razor-sharp 2160p, you'll have to import this English-friendly German release, which includes all the special features found on the regular Blu-ray in the US and UK – don't you just love how all 4K UHD discs are region free?
With regards to the disc's lack of HDR, you may be surprised to learn that the famously-visual director is actually quite color blind. An inability to see midtones has led Refn to favour high contrast and extreme colors throughout his career, as evidenced by the films Drive and Only God Forgives. Because of this, it's probably safe to assume that he wouldn't get much out of the high-dynamic-range experience.
Sourced from a 4K master (but shot at 3.4K), The Neon Demon looks incredible on Ultra HD Blu-ray, with its high resolution offering a noticeable uptick in detail over the 1080p version included in this package.
Aside from its 4K resolution, deep blacks and scorchingly vibrant colors are the big selling point here – though we were unable to test the film on an OLED television, the promise of individually-lit pixels beaming and pulsing out of the pitch black darkness of certain scenes has us giddy at the possibilities on hand.
Essentially a feature-length exercise in immense style and cinematography, it would be hard to imagine a film more suited to the 4K Ultra HD format.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1, German DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1 Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1, Runtime: 118 minutes
Based on the devastating true story of an enormous oil rig disaster that occurred in 2010, often cited as one of the largest man-made disasters in history, it is perhaps in bad taste to describe Deepwater Horizon as a tremendously visceral and visually spectacular film, given the lives that were lost on that fateful day. Regardless, we must still call 'em like we see 'em, and Deepwater Horizon looks incredible on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Director Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Lone Survivor) brings his tough and gritty film to the format with exceptional results. Though the film was finished on a 2K digital intermediate, Deepwater Horizon delivers strong detail and impressive dynamics, with its HDR enhanced presentation offering great depth and color reproduction.
Witness, for instance, the fantastic textures in the many scenes featuring actors smeared in oil and covered in dust and debris. Likewise, the film's many explosions burst with astonishing clarity thanks to the format's higher dynamic range. Fire is so bright that you can almost feel the heat emanating from your screen.
Visuals aside, Deepwater Horizon's audio presentation also receives top marks, with a Dolby Atmos presentation that will shake your living room once those aforementioned explosions start. The film's audio dynamics will bounce around your room, placing you right in the action. Helicopters flying overhead are particularly impressive here, making Deepwater Horizon a reference quality disc in both video and audio categories.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Aspect ratio: 2.40:1, Runtime: 107 minutes
Providing even more proof that you don't need a 4K master to get exceptional 4K UHD Blu-ray results, the entertaining shark attack movie The Shallows has emerged on the format with an absolutely sublime audio and video presentation.
Upscaled from a 2K master, The Shallows looks astonishingly crisp, with the film's digital photography lending immense clarity to the film's many surfing scenes. Witness, for instance, star Blake Lively's resting 'beachface', which reveals detailed pores, fine lines and even the salty texture of someone who's spent all day swimming in the ocean and soaking in sun rays. Unsurprisingly, the waves look spectacular, too.
Also complementing The Shallows' incredible visual presentation is an amazing Dolby Atmos track which faithfully reproduces the film's clever sound design. It's a muscular track that really puts you in the action, handling all of the film's audio dynamics with ease. Scenes where Lively is submerged make your living room feel like it's underwater, and one particular moment where an underwater GoPro shot breaks through the surface makes your ears pop like the real thing.
Occasionally, the added resolution of the disc makes some of the film's shark attack scenes look a little fake, but overall The Shallows is one of the best looking and sounding releases that the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray format has produced. Highly recommended.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (upscaled from 2K master), Audio: English Dolby Atmos, English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, French (Canada) Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai Dolby Digital 5.1, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 86 minutes
As close to a flawless 4K presentation as the format has so far produced, The Revenant looks utterly fantastic on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Shot digitally at resolutions of up to 6.5K (and finished on a 4K digital intermediate) using only natural light sources, The Revenant offers a very natural-looking presentation, giving the audience a more authentic idea of what it must feel like to be in the freezing wilderness alongside Leo and Co.
Compare the The Revenant's 4K disc to the regular Blu-ray packaged with it, and you'll notice that the discs provide quite different presentations of the film. This is because director Alejandro G. Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki re-graded the entire film in HDR exclusively for this UHD release. By comparison, the regular 1080p Blu-ray looks much cooler, with more dominant blues and greys taking centre stage. Meanwhile, the 4K disc offers more naturalistic skin tones and a warmer overall palette, making the film's many icy landscapes appear whiter and more true to life.
Speaking of landscapes, the added resolution and contrast of The Revenant's 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray makes them appear more grand and breathtaking, offering more fine detail and depth. Improved bloom lighting also lets the sun shine without bleeding into obvious and distracting shade transitions. A reference disc if ever there was one, The Revenant belongs in everyone's 4K collection.
Technical specs: Codec: HEVC / H.265, Resolution: 2160p (from 4K master), Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Italian DTS 5.1, German DTS 5.1, Aspect ratio: 2.39:1, Runtime: 156 minutes